Aconite

Introduction:

Aconitum napellus is a perennial herb with beautiful blue to dark purple blooms that is widely planted as an ornamental plant. Aconite is the common name for aconitum, a plant that looks like wild parsley or horseradish. Aconite has characteristic helmet-shaped blue or purple flowers. The colors of flowers may also be white, pink, peach, or yellow.

There are 350 species of aconite in the globe, with 170 of them found in China alone. Many species may be found in Asia, Africa, and Europe, and over 100 species can be found in temperate regions in the United States and Canada. Monkshood (because to the form of the bloom) and wolfsbane (because of its use in hunting) are two frequent names for it .

Other names are leopard’s bane, devil’s helmet and blue rocket. It has a long history as a poison, and it was frequently used on the points of arrows and spears while hunting.

Scientific Name:

  • Aconitum napellus L.,
  • Aconitum carmichaelii Debeaux, and,
  • Aconitum kusnezoffii Rchb.

Family: Ranunculaceae (buttercups).

Common Name(s)

Aconite tuber, monkshood, friar’s cap, helmet flower, soldier’s cap, wolfsbane, devil’s helmet, blue rocket, leopard’s bane, chuanwu, caowu, wutou, futzu, and bushi.

Active Principle:

Aconite roots contain aconitine (Main Principle), mesaconitine, hypaconitine, aconine, picraconitine, pseudoaconitine and other Aconitum alkaloids, which are known cardiotoxins and neurotoxins. 

Medicinal Uses:

The root is utilised in traditional medicine. Chemicals in aconite root may enhance circulation. Ear discomfort, influenza, panic attacks, shock, croup, angina, myocardial infarction, neuralgia, and urinary retention are among diseases that aconite can help with. It can create significant issues with the cardiovascular and neurological systems if used in excess.

The extraction of the aconitine alkaloid from aconite tincture requires precise processing of the plant, excluding the root, and crushing it into a pulp that can be crushed and blended with alcohol. The desired homoeopathic treatment will be produced by straining and diluting the resultant solution.

Toxicity:

Toxins may be found in many sections of the plant, notably the roots. These are most deadly. It’s best known as a heart poison, but it’s also a lethal nerve toxin (cardiotoxins and neurotoxins). Aconite plants in their natural state are extremely toxic. To minimise their toxicity, they are only utilised as herbs after being processed by boiling or steaming.

Symptoms:

The development of symptoms in poisonings happens between minutes to a few hours after ingestion. The fast development of life-threatening cardiac rhythm alterations is linked to the severity of aconitine intoxication. Numbness and tingling, a slow or rapid heart rate, and gastrointestinal manifestations such as nausea, vomiting, stomach discomfort, and diarrhoea are all possible symptoms. Death can result from respiratory paralysis and irregular cardiac rhythms.

Lethal Dose:

Death can be caused by as little as 2mg of pure aconite or one grams of the plant. Since aconite is rapidly absorbed through the skin a small touch with the flower might cause the fingers of one’s hand to grow numb.

Treatment:

Aconite poisoning has no known antidotes, although doctors can treat the symptoms. Therapy is symptomatic and supportive.

Sources & References
  • Kr, Mukesh & Singh, Mukesh & Vinod, Minu & Kr, Shiv & Iyer, Gaurav & Khare, Gotmi & Sharwan, Yogesh & Kr, & Larokar,. (2012). Aconite: A pharmacological update. International Journal of Research in Pharmaceutical Sciences. 3.
  • Chan TY. Aconite poisoning. Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2009 Apr;47(4):279-85. doi: 10.1080/15563650902904407. PMID: 19514874.
  • Moritz F, Compagnon P, Kaliszczak IG, et al. Severe acute poisoning with homemade Aconitum napellus capsules:toxicokinetic and clinical data. Clin Toxicol (Phila) 2005;43:873–6.